Monday, October 11, 2010

Trump Cards

Every person has their quirks.  Agents, me especially, are no exceptions.  So if you think you have something that gives your ms an extra little kick, make sure to include it in your query.  If your character rides around on ostriches and her sole purpose is to rid the world of evil squirrels, you might want to add that in there. 

Here are a few trump cards from published novels and reasons I couldn't not read the books:
  • The term "killer unicorn."  Enough said.
  • Pairing Abraham Lincoln with Vampires or Jane Austin with Zombies... priceless (don't try this though, Seth Graham Smith is a genius, and I personally won't look at your query if you do it)
  • Really depressing endings--usually killing off the main character's love interest--will actually make me really happy.  It does, however, have to be done well.  Really, really well.  But don't kill off your mc, I can't sell it, and that will make me sad.  (Of course, you can't say that in the query, please don't give the ending away.)
  • I picked up this book based on the title alone: "Twenty Boy Summer."  And it was a great read.  Analyzing the confusing aspects of today's society's dating methods and boy/girl relationships (especially when someone has died--because that's just morbidly depressing and a great story line) and dealing with grief, gets me all atwitter--I am a single 22 yr old after all, and that is the stuff of life

However, even the littlest thing can turn an agent off.  Here are a few don'ts from me:
  • If you compare your ms to Gravity's Rainbow I will not continue reading your query
  • If you aspire to write the next Twlight , I will laugh and toss you out a window
  • If you read Moby Dick in your spare time because it is "riveting, exciting, and the best novel of all time," I will personally feed you to a killer whale
  • The term "love at first sight" might kill me--please don't chance it, my death will forever haunt your writing career
Each agent has her trump cards and turn offs.  You might get lucky by accidentally appealing to them, or might have met them in person and know what they like.  Look for clues on their website or in their agent picture.  Analyze their favorite books.  What do they have in common with your manuscript that will appeal to them?

Happy writing!


Angela McCallister said...

I actually feel better reading this post, particularly about killing a love interest. I've killed my FMC's MMC sort of and I worried it'd turn the reader off (it's a romance, after all). I've got betas reading now, and that'll be my primary line of questioning when they're done. The way I've kept him after killing him is the twist I'm hoping the readers will enjoy. I'm actually quite surprised that you're open to an ending like that, and I hope more agents are as well. It's encouraging.

Vickie Motter said...

You do have to be careful. I'm talking fantasy. You cannot kill him in a romance (if he isn't dead dead, then it is negotiable), it is, after all, a happy story.